Things did not look too good for me this game. I was still sick, my mother described me as “weak-looking” and I had no ticket for this game. This meant that I would have to overpay for my ticket.
My dad left so I could not stubhub the ticket and save money, but I ended up paying $20 for my ticket which is better than I thought I would do. I say this because I talked to a scalper on Friday who said his low price for tickets was $35, which was out of my budget and his price would be higher today.
I was advised not to go to this game as I was sick and considering it all started three weeks with dehydration and the real feel outside would approach 100 degrees for this game, that it would kill me, especially since I had gone to Friday’s game and I had won four tickets for Sunday’s game through a contest done by H.K. Anderson who are in their second year as a sponsor for the Pirates.
Despite going against judgment, I knew that I have had a ton of success on Saturday games, especially Saturday games. Both Skyblast games this season, I have snagged five baseballs and that has helped a ton in regards to raising money for charity with my Ballhawking 2011 Proudly Supporting The Children’s Institute initiative.
With that in mind, I could not turn down going even if I would have to pay more than twice the face value of my ticket. I was lucky that I ran into a buddy that gave me the ticket at the $20 value. I now did not have to worry about getting into the ballpark.
I got on the bus and thankfully did not get into any traffic and arrived second behind Nick who looked like he had been there for days as he was sitting and had made himself at home.
We both waited for Erik so that we could all throw around. Nick left for a little while to walk around the ballpark, so I took 10-20 minutes to get a really good stretch in. I also ran a little bit to see how I would fare and it looked good.
When Erik and Nick came back we all started throwing around. My catching was slightly improved although my movement wasn’t quite there. My throwing was improved and my velocity was about the same to a little faster. I butchered the first grounder thrown to me, but after that had a pretty good grip on it. Turning a double play went well as well, and my route running finally was turning the corner, no pun intended.
After that, we assumed our places at the front of the line, and prepared for the game.
After a quick bag check, we were into the ballpark and searched for Easter Eggs, I found nothing. I knew what I wanted to do in regards to BP, as I had my strategy laid out.
The Pirates were taking cuts and although Herbie Andrade had a couple baseballs, I went for a conversation, explaining to him that I was sick when he asked how I was doing.
I was just waiting for this group that was hitting to stop so that I could assess what to do next.
As I was pondering, Matt Diaz was taking cuts, and during the week he is the only Pirate who hits them to us as Andrew McCutchen and others have already git by then.
I then heard a crack of the bat, and then saw a few people running. I was slow to react, but it deflected off of the area. The ball was coming right to me on the deflection but I had to run over a few steps to box it out. I then heard a “ZAC!!” before I used by second hand to secure it and avoid a scrum for ball number 1.
After the first group stopped hitting, I saw that Lyle Overbay was in the next group so I went over to the first base side, where I found no competition or Easter Eggs.
Both Charlie Morton and James McDonald were in right so I had a good feeling that I could get a baseball over there since Morton is generous with baseballs. With the players hitting opposite field the first two rounds of BP, I knew that I could see some action and sure enough when a ball ended up close to me. I saw Charlie Morton coming for the ball. Before I could even ask for it, Morton motioned to me asking if I wanted the baseball. I said sure and he threw me ball number two.
Ball number three came pretty quickly after that. Overbay hit an interesting ball that hit that notch on the first base foul side that I was able to get.
I then saw the St. Louis Cardinals pitchers come out and start throwing. All of a sudden another ball probably again hit by Overbay sharply hit the first base seats but did not stay for long as it bounced right back onto the field and into the glove of lefty Cardinals pitcher Raul Valdez. Despite wearing Pirates gear, he threw the ball right into my glove for ball number four on the day.
At this point Pitching Coach Dave Duncan came out with a baseball bat, and I said hello to him and we had a very brief conversation. It was cool to pick his brain even if it was for less than a minute.
Soon after the Cardinals started to throw and the first group consisted of Valdez and closer Fernando Salas. Salas nearly overthrew Valdez twice so I was optimistic. I had already thanked Valdez in Spanish for the ball he tossed me, and sure enough Salas overthrew the ball. I did not think that the coast was clear yet, so the four baseballs were in my pocket, and one fell out as I tried to run, so I had to pick that up and then put the baseballs in my backpack before easily finding the ball. After Valdez caught another ball, I asked if he needed the baseball back in Spanish and he told me no and thus ball number five happened.
There were no more overthrows, but Skip Schumaker who was hitting a lot of baseballs sharply hit one into the notch that I snagged for ball number six. At this point I was elated as it was a great day, but I was not done.
There were no more baseballs hit into foul territory during the time I was there. It was 5:25 and the other gates were opening. I was going to try a risky strategy again. I would have to run sick around the whole park, which is common on a Saturday for me, but I would have to go around the entire park ill. I made it and then opted to try right field for once. I had seen someone come into center field and pick up some baseballs. I did not see anyone come into right field, and there were no ushers up there yet so I knew that they had not pocketed any of the baseballs.
I was in a big group going up there, so I could not run, but I still found a couple of baseballs in section 142 for baseball numbers seven and eight. I was quite pumped, but the gate for 142 was not yet opened, which meant that I was trapped.
It did not mean much though, since once the gate opened and I ran into section 141, the Cardinals ended BP because of the heat. Many of their big hitters especially Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday did not even take cuts, so I would not have a chance for double digits.
That was it for the entire game as I did not get a bullpen toss up and settled for another conversation with Herbie. I had to leave after 8 as I wanted to be back home before dark to monitor my illness.
I was pleased with 8 baseballs as I more than made up for my $20 ticket. I also was given three tickets for a Thursday August 3 game against the Chicago Cubs. I likely will be unable to make that game, and can make money by selling these tickets which are actual tickets.
All in all it was a great day, and after BP I was pumping my fists in celebration. It may have been my best day of ballhawking and The Children’s Institute got more money. I am sure that the next homestand will be fun and being at 90 baseballs, the century mark is within reach and next homestand against the Cubs and San Diego Padres may be when I get there. I am very excited about the possibility of reaching the century mark. August should be a wild and crazy month, but first I am going to the Sunday game and may get a baseball or two there as well. Taking a huge risk by going to this game.